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All Posts By Michael Lecours, CFP

The Internet of Things Will Be Huge

It’s started already. The internet is working its way into our life more and more. It’s connecting our phones, computers, kitchen appliances and our stores to one another. You can control your thermostat remotely, or stream TV shows from the internet onto you TV, or monitor your security system. But that’s just the start.

Bottom line, sensors placed in devices compile data and send it over the internet where it is turned into meaningful information. The implications for businesses, non-profits, and government can help them become more efficient and reduce costs. We are seeing:

  • A farmer easily monitor hundreds of cows to make sure they are healthy while he sits at a computer.
  • Doctors remotely tracking patients with heart conditions.
  • Street lighting adapting automatically based on weather reports
  • Delivery vehicles being rerouted because of accidents up ahead.
  • Smart grids automatically turning down certain household appliances during peak usage periods when brownouts may occur. Or just automatically change when it senses no one is home.
  • A waste management company was able to reduce residential waste by 17% and increase recycling by 49% due in part to monitors tracking usage.
  • Water systems in cities such as Beijing have reduced leaks by 40-50% thanks to sensors placed on many pumps in their infrastructure.

And guess what? That’s still just the start. In just a few years, some people expect more “smart devices” to be in use than smartphones, tablets and computers combined.

Why You Can’t Hide From Inflation

Just because it isn’t making headlines, doesn’t mean inflation is not a serious issue.  We, as advisors, have to deal with on a daily basis.  The following article is filled with great nuggets about inflation.  Here are my favorites:

“According to the US Labor Department, the median weekly wage back in 1988 was $382… or roughly 18,336 ounces of Coca Cola. Today the median weekly wage is $831.40… or just 6,651.20 ounces.”

“$1 would have bought me 48 ounces of Coca Cola 26 years ago. Today that same dollar buys me just 8 ounces. This means that the dollar has lost 83.3% of its value against Coca Cola over the past three decades, averaging roughly 6.6% inflation per year.”

To read more visit ZeroHedge

Cost vs. Value. And How Money Fits In.

Excerpts from a great post great post by Seth Godin:

“Five dollars to buy a snack box on an airplane is worth something very different than five dollars to buy a cup of coffee after a fancy meal, which is worth something different than five dollars in the grocery store. That’s because we get to pretend that the five dollars in each situation is worth a different amount.”

“Cost isn’t abstract, but value is.”

IRA Pointers At Tax Time

Around this time of the year, when the tax reports are coming to your mailbox, you might be wishing you could do something about your upcoming tax bill. Well, maybe you can for your 2013 return, and for your 2014 return as well!

Did you or your spouse work in 2013? You may be eligible to make a deductible contribution to an IRA. Contribute $1000 and you can save $150 off your taxes, assuming you’re in the 15% tax bracket. The higher your bracket, the more you save. A married couple can contribute as much as $13,000, and save a couple of thousand on their 2013 return. These contributions for 2013 can be made through tax-filing day (without extensions) in 2014. But remember, your contributions can never be greater than your earnings. Also, you cannot make a regular IRA contribution, or a spousal contribution, in any year you are age 70-1/2 or older, even if you are working. Darn.

As a matter of fact, if you will be over 70-1/2 this year, you have to make a minimum withdrawal from your IRA and 401k. The withdrawal is about 4% of the account’s value as of the end of last year. But the calculation changes every year, and the penalty is huge if you forget or take out too little. If this has happened to you, call us for a work-around.

If you have a Roth-IRA, there is no requirement to take the money out, regardless of age. And if you’re earning income from work, you can still make a contribution. There’s no tax deduction, but the money can grow tax-free as long as you live!

If you have a question that you would like us to answer, please email us at or call our office at 860.521.471.


Young Savers: How to Retire a Millionaire

I was quoted in an article the other day about what young people can do to begin saving for retirement.  The article outlines a lot of great concepts and analogies:

  • Early Earl and Late Larry, a great chart showing the time value of money
  • A snowball rolling down a hill is like compounding interest where you can earn interest on your interest.

You can read the article here.

Cash Plus: Our Cash Strategy

We’ve built a cash strategy for Tier II and Tier III for investors with lots of cash sitting on the sidelines earning next to nothing.

We are recommending a short-term bond portfolio as outlined earlier. It would consist of 5-6 conservative bond investments, reviewed frequently and rebalanced every year. Effort is placed to minimize risk, diversify bond maturities and bond types through a combination of active and passive investments.

Other  features:

Funds can be wired from this account to your bank account in as little as three days.

You can sign up for free check writing privileges from the account.


Contact us today if you’re interested in making your cash work harder.


Creating a Cash Strategy

Your cash strategy should consist of three tiers, with each one having a specific objective:

Tier I: Immediate

Objective: Meets your immediate needs to pay bills and serve as your emergency cash fund.

Products to use: Focus on bank deposits and money market funds

Tier II: Enhanced Cash

Objective: Enhance returns to cash while maintaining liquidity

Products to use: Low duration bonds

Tier III: Return Driver

Objective: Grow cash balance over time

Products to use: Core bonds or actively managed bond funds

The allocation between each of these tiers will depend on several factors – including risk tolerance, goals and spending patterns.

We can help to analyze how much you need for each tier based on your needs. Contact us today if you’re interested in making your cash work harder.

A Step Out On the Risk Curve From Cash

Cash and money market funds pay next to nothing but then again you aren’t taking on much risk. If you’re exploring what to do with cash but not ready to go in stocks just yet, the next logical step is to look into short term strategies.  A little extra risk for a little extra potential reward.

Money Market Cash


Chart from PIMCO



Contact us today if you’re interested in making your cash work harder.


Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Where to Park Cash

The common options for cash can be complex and confusing.  These tend to be the three most common options:

Bank Deposits


Stable  and often insured

Easily accessible.

Flexible rates.  They can increase


Very low rates on deposits.  You’re lucky if you can find anything over 0.50% on bank deposits.

They will most likely stay below the long term inflation rate of 3%.


High Yield Savings Accounts


Typically has higher interest rates than bank deposits. Similar to Money Market funds.

Most likely insured.

Flexible rates that could exceed 3%.


Minimal customer service. Mostly done online.

Can be difficult to make deposits or withdrawals.


Certificates of Deposit


Better rates than Bank Deposits.


Subject to early withdrawal penalties.

Subject to interest rate risk.


Money Market funds


Returns may fall somewhere in between rates Bank Deposits and CDs.

No early withdrawal penalty.

Stable value of principal.


There can be declines in the portfolio.  It’s rare, but still possible.

Not insured.


Short Term Bond Strategy


Potential for better and higher REAL returns. (Real Return is the rate of return when you factor in inflation).

Diversification across multiple sectors and durations to minimize risk.


The value will fluctuate slightly.


Contact us today if you’re interested in making your cash work harder.